NostalgiA chuckle of a

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Letter to the Editor

Dinesh Raheja

Chashme Buddoor is that rare comic Hindi film which is funny without being puerile. This Sai Paranjpye humourfest was a frothy hit when released in 1981 and brought about a mini revival of clean, homespun comedies.
Deepti Naval, Farooque Shaikh in Cheshme Badoor
Sai made a film whose off-the-cuff insights rang true and were funny as well. With the zaniness factor kept within believable limits and with its franticpacing, this whacked out comedy is simply bags of fun.

Witness this frenzied early scene which sets the tone for the film. Neha (Deepti Naval) is a motormouth salesgirl who hawks Chamko washing powder from door to door. When she turns up uninvited at a bachelors' pad in a Delhi colony, two semi-clad bachelors, Jomo (Ravi Baswani) and Omi (Rakesh Bedi), quickly jump out of the balcony -- she is the next-door-neighbour whom they had pluckily tried to woo but failed.

ProducersDirectorMusic DirectorStars
Gul AnandSai ParanjpyeRajkamal

Farooque Shaikh, Deepti Naval, Ravi Baswani, Rakesh Bedi

It is left to the third bachelor, the dizzy, scatterbrained Siddharth (Farooque Shaikh), to receive the full benefit of her prattle.

Oozing the false sincerity of a sales pitch, Neha settles down in his room and with rehearsed ease rattles off, "Chamko. Kapdon ke liye behtareen sabun. Azmaiye baar baar. Lagatar. Chamko." A snowy napkin is proffered as a test for Chamko and the fidgety couple wait for five long minutes for Chamko to do its work.

The tragicomic tension between the sexes is excellently, and perceptively, played out in the following sequence: To escape Siddhartrh's gawky gape, Neha looks around till her gaze falls on the various pinups plastered over the walls. A towel falls off just then to uncover a pinup of a nude woman. Siddharth springs up and replaces the towel, quickly claiming that this particular part of the wall belongs to his room-mates. He nervously says he would have offered her tea but there is no milk. Instead, he insists that she eat a ladoo he has got from home.

While she struggles with the crumbly ladoo, he switches the cassette player on. The song Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho rings out. She is flummoxed; he is embarrassed. He springs into action and quickly ensures the door is ajar. She looks relieved.

This peerless comic scene climaxes with a loud guffaw. Neha proudly waves a clean napkin after drawing it from the bucket. But her joy is shortlived. Siddharth pricks the bubble by naively admitting that the napkin had been freshly laundered in the first instance.

The film carries a similar sting in many of its punchlines, which add a knockout little coda after the completion of the main scene, and fluidly strings together funny set pieces.

Things move along at a rapid clip between the delightfully different Neha and Siddharth. Neha is waiting at the bus stop wielding an imaginary baton (the after-effect of her singing class), much to the amusement ofonlookers when Siddharth, her knight on a shining bike, offers to whisk her off for coffee. When Neha remarks on the coincidence that brought them together once again, he baldly admits he has been circling the vicinity for half an hour.

Refreshingly, Neha admits that she too had deliberately leaked information about her singing classes to Siddharth.

In keeping with Sai's signature, her heroine refuses to kowtow to conventional phillumi women or to pander to politically correct feminist sentiments. When Siddharth suggests that Neha quit her saleswoman job after marriage, she asks for time -- just enough to finish her Tutti frutti ice-cream -- before she assents.

Jealous that Siddharth has scored with Neha, Jomo and Omi spin yarns about Neha being a flirt and as proof, trot out intimate details about her flat which they have accumulated on their misadventures. The scene where Farooque Shaikh comes for tea to Deepti's house and discovers the tell-tale signs that lend credence to his friends' story has a rushed rhythm.

The film veers towards a corny climax. Omi and Jomo, abetted by Neha's granny (a doughty Leela Mishra), plan to kidnap Neha and let Siddharth rescue her, but some real-life kidnappers beat them at the game!
Famous songs from Chashme Badoor

Is nadi ko mera

Shailendra Singh, Haimanti Sukla
KaalighodidwarkhadiYesudas, HaimantiSukla
Ansoo ki aartiHaimanti Sukla
Kahan se aaye badraHaimanti Sukla, Yesudas
Pyar lagawatHaimanti Sukla, Shailendra Singh

Sai deserves brownie points for abstaining from slapstick, for her detailing even in cameo roles (like the waiter who witnesses the Neha-Siddharth romance with the I-know-it-all expression). After painting Neha out to be a heartbreaker, Mojo and Omi discover poison in Siddharth's drawer. In their attempt to stop Siddharth from committing suicide, they blurt out the truth -- only to be told that Siddharth had purchased the bottle of Tik 20 to kill not himself, but some pesky bugs.

Sai also juggles the comedy with moments of genuine feeling, best illustrated in the scenes between the granny and Neha. The manner in which she orchestrates the interaction between the three bachelors is like a symphony.

And she seems to be a fan of Hindi cinema, laughing at and simultaneously drawing on regular Hindi film staple: songs in a park, a breezy appearance by Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha and a very watchable parody of hit songs from films ranging from Mughal-e-Azam to Teesri Manzil.

There is great chemistry between the tutti frutti-coffee couple, Deepti and Farooque. In comic subtlety, Farooque has few rivals. Deepti looks every inchthe girl-next-door and is at her lustrous best in the Chamko scene.

Ravi Baswani displays tremendous comic brio for a first-timer, and teams well with Rakesh Bedi. He looks like he believes every word of the hokum surrounding his imaginary romantic victories, though the tales are as tall as
a giraffe's neck.


* After the success of Chashme Buddoor, an impressed Dharmendra signed Sai to direct a big-budgeted comedy for his home banner. The film was titled Bichhoo, and Shabana Azmi was cast opposite Dharmendra. Unfortunately, Bicchoo was never completed.

* Ravi Baswani had assisted Sai as the properties-in-charge during the making of her Naseeruddin-Shabana starrer, Sparsh. Originally, Jayant Kriplani was considered for the character essayed by Ravi Baswani.

* Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval formed a pair after the success of Chasme Baddoor and did half a dozen films together including Saath Saath and Katha.


* Despite the much-appreciated song Kahan se aaye badra, and though Sai Paranjpye repeated Rajkamal in her next venture Katha, his career did not take off. The Kolkota-based Haimanti Sukla too did not make much headway in the Hindi film industry.

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